The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

Mercenaries… Back to the Future?

The inability of the feudal system to provide reliable armies gave rise to cadres of mercenaries that at first supplemented the aristocratic warriors of the feudal army, and then replaced them. By the Renaissance period, armies were largely made up of hired mercenary companies.  Aristocrats, once the knights of the feudal army, became the owners and officers of the  companies.   Mercenary companies were a key element of warfare throughout the 15th and 16th Centuries.  Many consider that they reached their greatest influence during the Thirty Years War, 1618-1648.  Toward the end of the war they began to decline in importance and by the end of the 17th Century they had largely been replaced by national professional armies.

Why did mercenary companies exist in the first place?  What advantage did they initially bring to the battlefield?

How were mercenary specialists of the Renaissance different from the contract specialists that we used today?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of mercenaries….then and now?  Is there an over-reliance on mercenaries today, or are they indespensible for many security tasks that the military simply doesn’t have manpower to accomplish?

For a Free .pdf book on Renaissance Armies click here.

August 25, 2010 Posted by | H100 | , , , , , | 11 Comments

LWOW on Facebook

This blog site now has a mirror presence on Facebook.

Click to here to go to the FB site.  Select “Like” to follow the LWOW blog on FB.

August 17, 2010 Posted by | Admin, H100, H200, H300 | Leave a comment

Watch Out! History is Repeating Itself!

The repetitious nature of history is a popular theme of commentators, particularly in regards to the issue of war.  Here are some headlines from recent media:

“The Thai crisis:  History repeats itself,” The New York Times, December 1, 2008

“History repeats itself,” The Economic Times, April 28, 2010.

“History Repeats Itself In Burma,” CBS News, Sept. 26, 2007

“History repeats itself with scandal-scarred seat,” New York Post, July 30, 2010

The earliest formal recording of this idea is the quote:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

George Santayana, The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress: Reason in Common Sense (2nd ed., Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, New York 1924), 284.

Does history repeat itself, or does it only appear to repeat itself to those who don’t really know their history?  Is Santayana really talking about a cycle of history or is he talking about people and instutions who fail to appreciate and understand the experience of the past (history) and therefore make mistakes in the present which could have been avoided?

August 17, 2010 Posted by | H100 | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Book Review: A Chance In Hell

A short excerpt of my review of the new book that covers the actions of BG MacFarland’s brigade in Iraq:

A Chance in Hell is one of the most important books written thus far on Army operations in Iraq.  The lessons in the book will be obvious and important to lieutenants and captains as well as colonels and generals.  It describes the close relationship between company and platoon tactics, brigade operations, and regional and national strategy.  It clearly describes the tactics, techniques, and procedures  of  the population centric approach to counterinsurgency.  Michaels demonstrates the criticality of cultural understanding to success at all levels of COIN operations. Finally, and most important, the book  highlights the importance of leadership to tactical and operational success.  The tough decision making, and the inspiring example of the leaders of the “Ready First” brigade come through as the critical element in the brigade’s success; a success that was the operational tipping point in the war in Iraq. 

For more information on this book click here for the book website.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | books, COIN, Current Events, Urban Warfare | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment